The 2014 local elections in Turkey marked another landslide victory for the AK Party, which has been in power since November 2002. As soon as the election results became public, whether or not Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would make a move to become president next August rapidly rose to the top of everyone's agenda in the Turkish capital. Almost simultaneously, pro-opposition groups began contemplating what they should do to prevent yet another win for Mr. Erdoğan, one of the most powerful politicians in the nation's history. As such, the opposition turned to an old trick: Forge an alliance between the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The opposition's early moves came prior to the local elections on March 30 as anti-government figures called upon voters to unite behind the strongest challenger in local races.
The idea was that CHP and MHP voters - who share little except a strong dislike of the ruling AK Party - would answer the call and deal a major blow to the Erdoğan administration at the local level. In practice, the vast majority of each party's supporters ended up voting for their own candidates. To be fair, such an alliance has a better chance of survival especially if the presidential election extends into the second round where mutual dislike of the government might form an opposition bloc.
Let's go back a little: The opposition's efforts to form a united front against the government date back to the 2007 deadlock between the AK Party and the secularist establishment.
Following Abdullah Gül's presidential bid and a declaration from the military command that threatened to take matters into their own hands, millions of people had poured to the streets as mainstream media outlets propagated the idea that responsible citizens should remove the ruling party from power. Despite confident pre-election declarations that the AK Party had but days left in power, the government doubled down by calling early elections where Mr. Erdoğan and his party won 46 percent of the vote to pave the way for Mr. Gül's election to the country's top office in August 2007. The initial efforts to form a united opposition front thus resulted in a humiliating defeat.
Another historic blunder was the opposition's efforts to unite against a series of government- sponsored constitutional amendments in the September 2010 referendum. In response to the AK Party's "Yes" campaign, opposition parties CHP and MHP asked their supporters to vote against the proposed changes, including the abolishment of a temporary law that granted a carte blanche to the perpetrators of the 1980 military coup. The constitutional referendum, which the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) boycotted, resulted in a victory for the AK Party as 58 percent of participants voted in favor of the amendments. As public advocates of intraopposition unity failed yet again, the assumption by and large was that the issue had now become part of the long history of failed political experiments.
With yet another attempt from the opposition to unite against the AK Party in the 2014 presidential race around the corner, it would seem that history has come full circle as selfproclaimed rightful owners of the state embark on a political adventure months before the historic vote.
To be sure, the alliance might have a chance of success - even though it's a long shot under existing circumstances. Even if CHP and MHP leaders were to join forces in August 2014, historic grievances and contemporary differences of opinion would most likely lead certain constituencies, especially within the MHP, to break party line. Furthermore, wishful thinking in the Turkish capital's power circles seems to ignore millions of Kurdish voters, to whom either opposition party has anything to offer. If anything, BDP voters are more likely to directly opt for Mr. Erdoğan, a key player in the Kurdish peace process, over the opposition or assist the AK Party candidate indirectly by boycotting the vote. Still, the missing piece of Turkey's presidential puzzle remains whether or not the long-time prime minister will run in August after all.